AGFC Press Release
In September, the Trout Management Program (TMP) started one-year creel and mail surveys of anglers on the Bull Shoals and Norfork Tailwaters, which are two important strategies outlined in the 2017 Bull Shoals and Norfork Tailwater Management plans.
Creel surveys are used by biologists to conduct “interviews”, where anglers are approached during their fishing trip and asked a series of questions. Their answers provide important information about the fishery, including the total amount of time they have fished (i.e., fishing effort), the number of fish they have caught and harvested, and other demographics (e.g., tackle use, target species, residency, etc.).
Mail surveys are used to collect more specific information from anglers and guides about the fisheries, including questions about the quality of trout fishing on the tailwaters, preferences for sizes/numbers of trout caught, level of support for potential management options (e.g., fishing regulations), and average expenditures on trout fishing trips.
There are a number of different creel survey designs that can be used to survey anglers. During past creel surveys on the Bull Shoals and Norfork Tailwaters, all interviews were conducted at public access points along the rivers. Although angler information collected during those surveys was valid, the Trout Program is now conducting all interviews from a boat during the current creel surveys.
The revised design will allow us to collect more information about the fishery, especially from anglers who utilize the many private resorts and residences along the rivers. Prior to the start of the surveys, the time of day (AM/PM), daytype (weekday/weekend), and river section to work during each shift were randomly selected, which ensures that results of this year-long survey will accurately reflect the effort and behavior of anglers on both tailwaters.
Due to the random nature of the design, there will be times when anglers (or guides with clients) will be interviewed on consecutive days or multiple days during a week. When that happens, we will appreciate your patience because each creel shift provides its own unique information.
Ultimately, the results from the creel and mail surveys will provide us with information necessary to better manage the fisheries, including evaluating stocking rates and the efficacy of current trout fishing regulations on the tailwaters.
During the first month, the willingness by anglers and guides to participate was great, as we interviewed nearly 300 angling parties. We look forward to the remainder of the survey and hope to see you all on the water soon.